I have always found it interesting to see how my children are navigating in social situations. My daughter, who is four, seemed shy like a toddler. In playgroups she would transfer toys instead of clinging to them or fighting a match.
But then she started nursery and found her voice (and grip).
She is at school now and has many friends. She is chatty and confident. But she is also nice. On my way home from school earlier this week, she told me that a girl in her class played alone so my daughter invited her to join the game she played with the other girls.
I told her I was proud; that it's important to include people – and she said: yes that's what you would do, is not it mom? And I felt even more proud that she looked at how her dad and I interact with – and treat – people and copy our behavior.
Now her younger brother is almost two, and his way resembles her, like a child. He handles the toys as soon as another child approaches, or runs away to protect them. He never stumble, he never hits. And sometimes I think: I wish him to stand up for himself.
But I'm looking for comfort in his sister's transformation from silent and compatible to high and more self-adhesive. She stands her ground and makes it clear when something is not right. I hope that time will come to my son to feel safe to do this as well.
Meanwhile, I have to find out what to do when other, more confident children chew over and sneak into their toy. It can be difficult if the other child's parents do not think it's bad – but maybe it's because their children are "snatcher", not "snatchee".
If we are in a playgroup and the parents are not around, I take the toy back from the child carefully and give it to my son. I'll explain to both of them that sharing is good, but if someone is playing a toy, we have to wait until they're ready to hand it over.
That way my son teaches that he can not always play and the other child learns to respect other children and their right to play. Sometimes my son offers the toy. If he does not, I encourage him after he has had it for a while.
If the parents are left, I have to hope that they will see what happens and intervene. Ideally, these lessons should come from our own parents, not from a stranger. If they do not say anything, and let their child continue playing, I'll move with my son to find another toy.
But if we're out, my son has one of his own toys and a child will take it, if his parents look I'll ask it back or not. It is important to share but also to acknowledge possession; I do not want anyone to take my phone off and get off – why should a child get this done?
In the end, each situation must be measured, but I think it is important to empower our own children to feel that they are equally entitled to play as the others. And to take care of their own belongings. But also to encourage common play and sharing.
What do you do if another child sneaks your child's toys?